I. CHRIST’S JUDGMENT SEAT
A Final Warning to God’s Deceived Children to be Ready to Escape Babylon
III. DESCRIPTIONS OF BABYLON
CHRIST’S JUDGMENT SEAT
Revelation 14:17 to 15:4
At once, another reaping follows: “And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to Him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in Thy sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.” Like grapes gathered together into a great winepress to be trodden upon by the Almighty, the wicked will now be destroyed. An eastern winepress was similar to an open-air, shallow basin scooped out of the ground. Then, its floor and sides were cemented. Into this basin, bunches of grapes were thrown upon which the men trod with their bare feet.
Speaking of this same judgment time, Isaiah 63:1-4 says, “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? This that is glorious in his apparel, traveling in the greatness of his strength?” And the Lord answers: “I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” Then, the prophet asks: “Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winevat?” The Lord answers: “I have trodden the winepress alone . . . for I will tread them in my anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in my heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.”
The King’s Winepresses were just outside the wall of Jerusalem in the King’s Garden in the Kidron Valley (Nehemiah 3:15, Zechariah 14). A most terrible battle will take place at Armageddon of which we will learn more presently. The blood of the slaughtered men and animals will be up to the horses’ bridles in the deep valley outside Jerusalem, and the stream of blood will extend along a distance of 160 miles northward and southward. From Bozrah in Edom to the south to the plain of Esdraelon, or Megiddo, from which Armageddon gets its name, this terrible battle will be even greater than the one described in 9:15. In that battle, 66,000,000 people will perish; but it will be the last battle this earth shall ever see. Does it seem impossible to you that blood should ever flow so deep as horses’ bridles?
Murray’s Guide to Syria and Palestine relates regarding the town of Bether, which is about six miles to the southwest of Jerusalem, as the place where the Jews under Bar-Choba made their last stand against the Romans in the time of Hadrian (A.D. 135). The siege lasted three-and-a-half years. When the city was captured, 800,000 persons were slain. The horses waded up to their bridles in blood. Rivers of blood along the streets were so strong they carried away stones weighing four pounds. Thousands of Jews were taken captive and sold as slaves under the oak of Mamre. Yet, this story is only profane history, which may be exaggerated. The Bible, however, does not exaggerate. We have no conception whatsoever of the terrible bloodshed of this great battle of Armageddon when it takes place. The entire history of this world has never furnished anything to which it can be compared. The greatest slaughter will be at that point in the deep Kidron valley known as “the king’s winepresses.”
Romans 14:10 says, “we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” Beginning in Revelation 15, we are taught about this judgment. John begins with these words, “And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the last seven plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.” Presently, He will show us in more detail what was meant by the trampling of the grapes in “the great winepress of the wrath of God.”
Suddenly, John recalls, or seems to recall, that he is getting ahead of his story. Those grapes will be gathered together, but they will not be trampled upon just yet. Not until God’s prepared children--those ready for translation--are taken out of the way, judged before Christ’s judgment seat, and presented before God’s throne as the second firstfruits offering.
Although no description is given of them being taken out of the world, we have Paul’s words elsewhere: “Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (I Corinthians 15: 51-52). Again, he tells us: “The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, (Christ descends, sitting on a cloud, Revelation 14:14-16) to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (I. Thessolonians 4:16-17)
God’s translated children have been judged as to their faithfulness as Christ’s servants and rewarded according to their use of the talents entrusted to them during their Lord’s absence from the earth. John next calls attention to their presentation before God’s throne: “And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name standing on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are Thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are Thy ways, Thou king of saints. Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name?. . . for Thy judgments are made manifest” (15:2-4.)
Next, we will see these judgments are made manifest as to the wicked. Before we pass on to them, we ask why does it say that these sing both the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb?” The reason is that both Jew and Gentile Christians are now united in one body. The firstfruits offering, which represented them in the ancient Temple offerings, were two loaves of leavened bread (Leviticus 23:17).
Since the coming of Elijah, one of those Two Witnesses, to restore all things, Gentile Christians understand and value Moses and his law and the entire Old Testament as never before. And, since the prophesying of John, the other of the Two Witnesses, the Jewish Christians understand the New Testament and believe it. They see how it explains and completes the Old Testament. Therefore, in full accord, the two bodies now united as one sing both of Moses and of the Lamb.
Moses composed a song when the children of Israel came through the Red Sea on dry ground. That same water piled up on either side, letting them pass through, came together again and drowned the Egyptians pursuing them. These have just escaped the fury of Antichrist and the False Prophet, as they did of old Pharaoh and his host. So we think they sing the song composed by Moses on that occasion: “I will sing unto the Lord for He hath triumphed gloriously” (Exodus 15:1).
And, then, they sing the song of he Lamb. Perhaps this song is the one in 5:12-13: “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory, and blessing . . . Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.”
The second firstfruits were offered at Pentecost in the New Testament (Acts 2:1). On that day, the Holy Spirit descended in power upon the disciples (men and women) assembled in the upper chamber. According to Mosaic law, as previously stated, it was customary for women as far as possible to attend this feast (Deuteronomy 16:11). This quickening of the living disciples of Jesus Christ at Pentecost prefigured the quickening leading to translation of those who are alive at His coming.
Let us repeat: This general translation included both Jewish (aside from the 144,000 Israelites before mentioned) and Gentile Christians. The presentation before God’s throne of these two classes of people in one body was prefigured by the second firstfruits offering of the Levitical law (Revelation 15:2, Leviticus 23:17). This offering consisted of two loaves of leavened wheat bread and came after, and not before, the grain had been reaped and made into flour. The first firstfruits offering was merely a handful of the grain called a “sheaf,” which was cut from standing barley before it was reaped. Fifty days spanned the offering of the two firstfruits. The barley firstfruits typified the translation of the 144,000.
In our last chapter, we represented the Son of Man descending on a cloud, sickle in hand to reap the earth. Now, the reaped grain is made into two finished loaves (Jewish and Gentile Christians) and presented to God. They stand on the “sea of glass.” John records he saw this sea in his first vision of heaven (4:6), which then was empty but is now full of saints. “Them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name.” They had refused to worship Antichrist and the talking image. Also, they had refused to receive the mark in their forehead or hand. Having deciphered his name, they knew from its number he was the Antichrist.
This time the “sea of glass” is mingled with fire whereas before it was clear as crystal. Dr. Seiss says, “It is best taken as a sea of judgments which are poured forth in the seven last plagues, whilst in that regard at the same time a sea of blessed vindication and joy to those faithful ones whom the beast persecuted unto death.” On the earth below, the angel who has “power over fire” (14:18) is executing the fiery indignation of God against all wickedness buy trampling the grapes in the winepress of God’s wrath. It is as though these judgment-fires either were reflected upwards on the sea of glass, or else they were falling downward to the earth from that sea. At any rate, the saints are now above and beyond all this earthly activity while punishment is falling upon the wicked.
In chapter 12, God is shown as one who keeps His covenant by giving the seed of the Woman the power to bruise the Serpent’s head. Hence, the scene begins with a view of “the ark of the testament,” or covenant (11:19) wherein God’s temple is opened to show the same. However, the word translated “temple” (naos) means the innermost chamber of it--the holy of holies in which the ark was placed. In the present chapter (15:5) the “temple,” that is, this same innermost chamber again is opened to view the second time.
Now, it is called “the tabernacle of the testimony” because the Ten Commandments at once represented a covenant and a testimony--a testament and a testimony. Did you ever think of the difference in the meaning of these two words? Wouldn’t you rather someone give you something by his will and testament than by testimony against you? Hence, the ark in the holy of holies, which contained the Ten Commandments, was called both “the ark of the covenant and “the ark of the testimony” (Numbers 10:33, Exodus 25:22).
God will keep His covenant and translate His saints who are altogether obedient to Christ’s warnings and ready for Him when He comes. That promise is the “great sign” of chapter 12 as well as the following chapters until the saints are seen on the glassy sea. “Another sign in heaven, great and marvelous,” brings God’s testimony against the wicked into view. He condemns them to sore punishment. (Revelation 15)
His first commandments are directed against idolatry, for these wicked people have been worshipers of Antichrist. Hear what He says: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me.”
Again, God says: “Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which He made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of anything, which the Lord thy God hath forbidden thee. For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God. When thou shalt beget children, and children’s children, and ye have remained long in the land, and shall corrupt yourselves, and make a graven image, or the likeness of anything, and shall do evil in the sight of the Lord thy God, to provoke Him to anger; I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it; ye shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed.” (Deuteronomy 4:23-26)
Thus, God severely condemns and threatens to punish idolatry. Certainly, those idolaters, worshippers of Antichrist, must be punished. God produces His testimony that indeed it shall be. The time has arrived for Him to “destroy them which destroy the earth” (11:18). His “judgments on the wicked are made manifest” by what follows.